Video: Blue Jackets offer behind-the-scenes look at draft strategy

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

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More NHL teams seem to be offering behind-the-scenes looks at their hockey operations with documentary-style videos and pretty much all of them have been fascinating. One of particular note is the Columbus Blue Jackets' series, Behind the Battle.

The fourth episode takes a look inside the Blue Jackets' efforts during the first round of the NHL Draft, bouncing between the pre-draft meeting with the amateur scouting staff and the action on the draft floor.

Columbus is of particular interest in these mini-docs because of the presence of new GM Jarmo Kekalainen. He made a name for himself as a draft guru, so seeing him in his element as the man in charge makes for some very intriguing viewing.

Here are some of the highlights from the episode:

-- During the pre-draft meetings, Behind the Battle takes us inside a pre-draft interview with Alexander Wennberg, who Columbus selected with the first of their three first-round picks at 14th overall. They asked him if they should use one of their picks on him and which one. “Fourteen, of course,” Wennberg said.

-- The action on the draft floor is incredibly intriguing, as the draft table phone seemed to ring often with teams trying to make deals with the Blue Jackets. You can hear Kekalainen's side of each conversation.

There was an offer on the table from Buffalo at one point, to which one of Kekalainen's staffers says, "The math says to do that deal." However, after Max Domi was taken with the 10th pick by Phoenix, Buffalo pulled its offer. "They wanted him," team president John Davidson said in reference to Domi.

In another trade negotiation, Kekalainen hangs up with San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson and references a "value chart." The chart told him San Jose's offer was better than the pick, but only by a hair and thus not worth passing on the pick. He held onto the selection and took Wennberg. The team was clearly taking a deeply analytical approach to this draft.

-- After the San Jose Sharks take Mirco Mueller with the 18th overall pick, there's an audible celebration from the Blue Jackets table and excitement builds as they make the decision to select Kerby Rychel at No. 19.

With Columbus on the clock for that pick, the phone rang again, but Kekalainen cut off the unidentified GM on the other side and explained to his staff, “I didn't even listen to he had to offer. We're making the pick.”

-- Kekalainen also had talks with Edmonton late in the first round to move the 27th pick for the Oilers' two second-round choices, but was turned down.

It's really interesting stuff if you want to get a look at the inner workings of a team in the process of trying to change a history of futility and if you are a Blue Jackets fan, you have to like the way Kekalainen and his staff operate. It should be really interesting to see where they can take this team.

 
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